Carnival Dream cruise ship, Dream Lobby & Atrium - Monday, February 17, 2020

Carnival Dream cruise ship, Dream Lobby &  Atrium - Monday, February 17, 2020
Carnival Dream cruise ship, Dream Lobby & Atrium - Monday, February 17, 2020

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Scavenger Hunt (AKA Grocery Shopping) - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Who knew a few weeks ago that our society in the U.S. would be turned upside down? There are some who have been predicting doomsday for years and they're probably puffed up like pufferfish saying, "I told you so."

Well, this happened so fast it makes your head spin, and your psyche wondering where do we go from here, and how do we find food? Here's my tale of the last three weeks when the panic-buying of groceries started. 

In my experience, there has not been a dearth of groceries in my lifetime. Well, except in 1961 when I was 8-1/2 years old and there was a Bay of Pigs threat. I remember going to the grocery store with my mom and stocking up on some things, but I was too little to remember exactly what. It was short-lived. 

My tale begins three weeks ago. That was before Bob and I flew to Portland, Oregon. I was shopping at Costco and buying the items on my list. What's this?  All the rice, Oreos, and a number of other items were gone. I wasn't shopping for those items. I did buy toilet paper (there was plenty then) and Kleenex (they were down to four Costco-sized Kleenex packages). So, that was my first inkling that something was brewing. 

Bob and I flew to Portland, but we cut our trip(s) short. At that point, I was in Portland (for Mom's 90th birthday) and he was in Phoenix (after he had performed his uncle's funeral). We each flew back to San Antonio from our respective locations. That was Sunday, March 15 (mom's 90th birthday, but we couldn't take her out to dinner because the assisted living facility went on complete lockdown the night before).

Last week, when more episodes of coronavirus were found in San Antonio, our mayor asked us to shelter-in-place (stay home). That's when the run on grocery stores started. First to disappear was toilet paper, followed closely by eggs, Kleenex, hand sanitizers, bleach, soaps, other cleaning supplies, soup, other canned goods, cheese, milk, flour, sugar, almond milk (surprising!), and bread. I'm thinking probably diapers and baby items also disappeared quickly, but we haven't had little ones around for 36 years.

Before that, there was an abundance of food, no problemo; we never thought about a lack of goods. Then came the "stay home, stay safe" order. Things went from bad to worse. This is when people began digging through the boxes of newly arrived grocery store supplies that employees were using to try to stock shelves. People began buying hoarding quantities, not usual, everyday quantities.

One day, I made a grocery list of items I needed for recipes for the next week or two and I set out to find those things. The first couple of things I needed were almond milk and Wickles relish. I went to Walmart. They did not have either item, but I did find bananas, a 2 lb. block of medium cheddar cheese (the last one), and a 4 lb. bag of frozen blueberries for our smoothies. I also got two bags of Hershey's chocolate, one for me and one for Bob.

From Walmart, I went to H-E-B. I grabbed a cart and looked for the almond milk and relish. Nothing at H-E-B I wanted, so I left empty-handed. Next door, was a Target. Guess what? Their small grocery section had almond milk and they had dill pickle relish, so I got those items. So far, no lines.

Fast forward to this week. I still had items on my list from last week. Here's what it took to get those items. On one day, Monday, March 23, I went to Costco (store #1 today) which is 18 miles from our home. The store opened at 10:00 a.m. When I got there at 9:00 a.m., the line was around the building. I decided not to shop at Costco, but I got gas at $1.49 per gallon.

Just down the freeway access road was a Walmart (store #2 today). List in hand, I stopped in at Walmart. Here's what was on my list:

  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • spinach
  • avocados
  • eggs
  • creamed corn
  • frozen corn (large bag)
  • poblano chile 
  • canned Hatch chiles (2 small cans)
  • flour
  • sugar (10 lb. bag)
  • flour tortillas
  • red bell pepper
  • 8 oz. pkg Monterey Jack cheese
  • red enchilada sauce (3 - 3 oz. cans)
  • cheddar cheese
  • rice
  • bread
  • cornstarch
  • noodles
  • chicken noodle or chicken rice soup
  • evaporated milk (1 can)
At Walmart, I was able to get fresh vegetables, flour tortillas, four cans of chunky chicken noodle soup, two 1-lb. boxes of sugar, Hatch chiles, and the Monterey Jack cheese. 

From there, I went across the freeway to the H-E-B (store #3 today). At H-E-B, I was directed to the other side of the store from where I had parked and informed they only had once entrance open. I was directed to the end of the line which went down one side of the building. An H-E-B employee was giving the line of people information about going into the store: only a few people were being allowed in at a time, what items they were out of, they had lines on the floor for how far apart you were to stand in the aisles and check-out line, etc., etc. I stood there ten minutes while she kept on with the rules and we didn't move. This was going nowhere fast or even slow for that matter. I left. 

On the way home was a Super Target (store #4 today), so I stopped there. That was the worst supplied store of all. I found frozen corn on the cob and figured I could cut the corn off the cob for my recipe. I also bought gluten-free flour (since it was all they had), 2 8-oz. pkgs. of cheese, and green enchilada sauce (in case I can't find the red sauce anywhere).

A few items were checked off my list and I was frustrated. On Tuesdays, Walmart now has the store open one hour early (from 6:00 - 7:00 a.m.) for seniors over 60 to shop. I went there at 5:45 a.m. The line was already along the whole front of the building. 

Senior line at Walmart, 5:45 a.m., Tuesday.
As I waited in line, two ladies behind me were yammering about how it looked like not everyone in the line was a senior. And why didn't they have a line for people with problems? She was complaining about how her back was hurting. She's 67 years old and it was hard to stand. On and on. Then she started with a dry cough. Really?

When we made it to the front door just shortly after 6:00 a.m., I had my I.D. ready but wasn't asked for it. I found two small bags of frozen corn, 5-lb. bag of sugar, almond milk, jasmine rice (the kind in a box, and even though I was looking for a 2 lb. bag of brown rice, I bought what they had left), a turkey, and eggs! (There was a line to buy eggs. Most people stood in the line, but every once in a while someone would go to the front of the line from a different direction and get in front of everyone. The eggs said you could buy two cartons. I only needed one carton, but I watched EVERY SINGLE PERSON in front of me take two dozen eggs. Wow!)

I saw a Walmart clerk go up to someone to tell them that they were limited to one item (I didn't see what item), and she asked if she could take the extras back to the shelf. They acquiesced. It was a zoo.

On Tuesday, March 24, I played a detective. I was walking to the office in the RV park to pick up our mail. Along the way, I stopped to talk to people and was lamenting not being able to find the groceries I needed. One helpful gentleman, Bob, told me I should try La Fiesta Market a few blocks away. He said they had good luck there. It couldn't hurt, so after I picked up the mail, I headed out to La Fiesta. 

There were a number of cars in the parking lot, but the store was not crowded. I found creamed corn, cornstarch, stewed tomatoes (for future spaghetti sauce), and a couple of boxes of rice. I also bought two cake mixes and two cans of frosting. The checker asked me if I found what I needed and I told her I was only missing red enchilada sauce and evaporated milk. She said, "Oh, I saw those at the Dollar General," and she gave me directions. 

Next stop, the Dollar General. Sure enough, I got the red enchilada sauce and evaporated milk. I also bought some cookies and potato chips.

So, all in all, it took me 1-1/2 weeks to complete my grocery shopping. Now, I will only need to go for fresh fruits and veggies in the next few days. Whew. Crazy how life has changed in three weeks!

I want to sign out with a photo from our walk last night. It was a lovely, clear, warm San Antonio evening. I hope all is well where you live. 

Over and out.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Stormy Seas on Our Last Day of the Cruise! - Friday, February 21, 2020

It was a dark and stormy night in the Gulf of Mexico. Our cabin was toward the front of the ship and near the waterline. The ship was like a roller coaster and went not only up and down, but side to side. 

This morning, Peri and I had reservations for the Cat in the Hat Brunch which was an additional $6.00 per person. Both of us like Cat in the Hat and it sounded like fun. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. and were shown to our seats. The restaurant was decorated with a Cat in the Hat ice sculpture, cardboard posters of the Cat in the Hat, centerpieces, and each place setting had a Cat's Hat red-and-white layered parfait. 
Our brunch menu.
Photo op that didn't cost extra.
Cat's Hat Parfait.
Menus were out, and we met the family that shared our table. It was fun to read the food descriptions.

I had to have Green Eggs and Ham! Plus, the Red, White, and Blue Waffle sounded good. In addition, for the beverage, I ordered orange juice. 

Cat in the Hat walked by.
Thing 2 came by to
create mischief.
The Green Eggs and Ham were good.
The waffle, on the other hand,
was cold and soggy. Blah.
Because the ship was rocking and rolling so much, the family across the table did not last long. The mom was looking a little green. They stayed long enough to see the characters come out and got their food but then left quickly. After we ate, we watched as families paid extra to get their photos taken with the characters. When brunch was over we retreated to the cabin. Peri wanted to rest. I sat in the window seat and read. Peri told me not to wake her if I went out. 

Sitting in the window well.
Very active sea!
We were invited to play cards with the ladies. After I read for a while and watched the waves splashing up past our window, I headed out to look for the card game. Peri was napping, so I didn't wake her. It was about 1:30 p.m. 

We were supposed to meet in the big buffet restaurant. I found Angie there eating lunch, so I got a burger and joined her. About 20 minutes later, three others showed up.  

The table Angie and I were at was too small to play cards on, so we moved across the aisle to a bigger table. Unfortunately, it was right by a door and a cold wind was blowing in. 

We went in search of a better place to play. The library sounded like a good idea. However, it was so windy and cold outside, the library/game room was full to the brim with families playing games. We finally found a very small bar table near the piano bar and dragged some heavy chairs over so six of us could fit around it. There wasn't a whole lot of room to spread the cards out like we needed to for "Pyramid." 

Next, we played "Seven," I think it was called. That also took up a lot of room on the small table. We had a good time anyway. We were there for about 1-1/2 to two hours. 

Peri caught up with us later and wondered we had been. She woke up and came looking for us but couldn't find us. I told her at first we were a moving target and that where we ended up was a little out of the way. 

Dinner was good and, because it was our last night, the waiters did a Baked Alaska parade with our desserts. 

Baked Alaska. Mmmm.
After dinner, we went to the big theater for a good-bye from the crew. The boat was moving around so much that the crew was swaying on stage. After the crew's good-byes, we had one more show. 

Time to say good-bye.
The finale show had to be taken down a notch. They couldn't put up their stage sets and decorations for the safety of the crew. The heavy sets could fall because of the active seas. No big dance numbers, just the entertainers singing while sitting on stools. It was a much quieter show tonight. 

After the early show in the theater, Peri, BettyAnn, Luann, and I went to the Comedy Club. It was fun because of the comedian. He parodied famous songs and singers. 

Luann and BettyAnn.
Me and Peri.
Decor in the Punchliner Comedy Club.
And then it was time to pack. Our debarkation from vacation is tomorrow. We hope for NO FOG when we head into port!! Good night, all.